Are event apps worth the investment?

The opportunity to create an event app has come up numerous times when I’ve been working with various clients and I’ve generally chosen to invest time and resources elsewhere (mostly in acquisition). A bit like when websites first appeared, people are often keen to get an app before they’ve even thought about what the objectives might be for it but I can see there are some scenarios where it makes a lot of sense. I’d be interested to hear about any instances where it’s worked well and what % of visitors have actively used it.

That’s a great question. If it’s just purely for information, I don’t think they are really worth the investment. Having an event app is one thing, getting people to install them is another. What pull factors are there for attendees to download and install an app?

If its purely information sharing, maybe a mobile responsive website will do. In my opinion, event apps are great for the following:

  • Networking. Even if it’s just a list of attendees, it’s still good to know whose around to look out for.
  • Interactivity such as crowdsourced Q&A, polling and feedback. These get your attendees to be more involved in the discussions, to ask and share knowledge.
  • Social functionality such as sharing photos, and Twitter feeds.

If you incorporate crowdsourced Q&A and polls throughout your event, then attendee usage levels will be pretty high. From our own stats, it can range from 50% to over 80% engagement levels.

The challenge though is to keep the usage and energy consistently high throughout the event :slight_smile:


Thanks Lyon. That’s really interesting and some great ideas in there. Your engagement levels are much higher than I had envisaged!

I think if you go back about 7-8 years every programmer and web designer in the world had jumped on the event app band waggon. This created a problem where every app promised the world and in reality delivered very little. Because they were being built by people who only understood the technology and not the world of live events every new solution tended to cost a lot and was plagued by problems. I remember our biggest issues being the lack of data integration/management and the huge time-lag in updating content caused by the approval delay from the app stores. As a result of this i think the whole events sector has become very jaded in their view of event apps.

However, recently there have been some notable changes in the way event apps are built and event customers are serviced. Companies like Yada for example ( have created a solution which will allow the event manager or marketer to build a usable, profile driven database of event customers which spans all the events managed through their system. Beginning with event registration via the app the user’s profile is then available to all attendees who want to connect with that user through the internal social messaging - so no need import pre-reg data or other held data from another system.

This makes delivering all the points Lyon raised a seamless process for once! And is just one example of how todays app developers are taking a new grown-up view of how to service the events sector properly and I for one believe they can play a huge role in today’s events.

Thanks Andy. Seems I need to explore the latest developments on this including Yada! What kind of ball park are we talking about in terms of budgets?

Traditionally the price for an event app hovered around the £3-5k mark (which is a huge part of a marketing budget). I like the yada model because it’s free to use for smaller events. For bigger commercial trade shows I believe they are working on new pricing model which is based around numbers of users not a flat rate for the programming work - I understand it’s a lot less than the usual model.

Thanks Andy. One of my clients was quoted £19k earlier this year… I talked them out of it!! I will check out yada for future reference. Cheers, Melissa

To be honest, I think the answer to that is really dependant on the problem one is trying to solve with the app. A lot of the time, I find event apps are either poorly thought out, or cram in “high engagement features!” like a comments feed etc. (effectively trying to recreate functionality), or are trying to sell you everything and the kitchen sink.

As an example, a lot of apps point out that they have an agenda included - we have our agenda printed on the back of our badges. The problem doesn’t always require software to solve, and changing the badge cost a lot less than £19k!

It’s worth bearing in mind that no event app will survive one week past the event itself (or at least, it’s best to assume it won’t). So any value you’re hoping to create for users has to either be immediate, accessible via the web, or (ideally) something they can take out of the app when they delete it.

For what it’s worth, I also think that “engagement numbers” can be a fuzzy thing to calculate, and you should make sure anyone selling you an app really nails down what they mean. For example, I’ve run an event where 30% of users used the app. Of those people, maybe 25% actually enjoyed using it or reported getting value. And then there are the 40% people who were aware of the app, but deliberately decided they didn’t want a digital experience (Without installing it / checking it out at all). It comes back to exactly what problems you’re trying to solve, and what results would be meaningful towards that.

< dismounts soapbox >


Thanks Chris. Yes definitely recommend agreeing your objective and understanding what your audience wants/needs before choosing the tool by which to deliver it rather than an app for apps sake.

You don’t necessarily have to build your own bespoke event app. If the main objective is networking, there are some great off the shelf tools such as:
Presdo Match: has direct integration with LinkedIn
Prosimity: like Tinder for business
Attendify: lets you create a private social network for your event

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Couldn’t agree more @camassey, you shouldn’t be paying these sums of money if you’re not delivering value beyond what you can do without an app.

Having said that, I heard Glastonbury had an app that allowed you select all the artists you wanted to see, and then created you a personalised calendar/agenda for the festival which seemed like a good feature, but at what price?

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Thanks Belinda. I didn’t know about these but will definitely check them out!

Tried to download Prosimity but it looks to be a USA-only beta at the moment. Looks to be an interesting one though when it’s finally let out into the open.

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Thanks for flagging @Voicey - will keep any eye on that. M

Eventbrite has an API integration with Prosimity, if that’s helpful?:

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Worth knowing absolutely. Although for maximum use I think people would still need the app on their phones. Hopefully it’ll be released in the UK before too long.

I use App Maker for my festival. Its basic but for those on a budget as tight as mine its great. I pay $65 a year (I did say low budget). That included getting it onto iOS and Google Play (though I had to pay a developer fee of $25 for that). It has a great admin backend with instant updates on the app. Really is the lower end of the market but we have around 50% of our regulars using it and we have done exclusive competitions that you can only enter via the app to make more people download/use it.


Could you give us the link for that App Maker you mentioned @Jay - sounds interesting.

Yeah this is it @Voicey

If you go to the app store first and search Breaking Bands Festival you can see mine in action. Its a bit messy though at the moment as I am making changes to it for next years festival.


Oh yeah, there is the online HTML5 version so no need to download…